Apple is facing a class action lawsuit which alleges that the company violated a Californian privacy law by recording users without their consent via its Siri voice assistant and then sharing some of those recordings with human contractors.
The suit is based on a report which revealed that Apple was sending some Siri recordings to human contractors. These recordings were often sent after Siri was activated accidentally and sometimes contained sensitive information. Apple has since suspended the program which sent Siri recordings to human contractors.
In the suit, Apple is accused of violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act which prohibits the recording of people without their permission. The suit claims that:
- Individuals who use Siri have not consented to Apple recording their conversations when Siri is accidentally activated
- Apple has not informed consumers they are regularly being recorded without consent
- Many consumers would not have bought Siri devices if they had known Apple was recording their conversations without consent
The lawsuit also references multiple privacy claims from Apple which contradict the recent revelations about Siri recordings being sent to human contractors. These include:
- Apple's July 2018 response to questions from Congress which say “iPhone doesn't collect audio recordings of users without consent”
- Apple CEO Tim Cook accusing Google and other rivals of conducting “surveillance” in 2018
- Apple's recent privacy-focused marketing campaigns which included buying a billboard in Las Vegas which read “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.”
Additionally, the suit asks the court to issue an injunction which prevents Apple from recording the Plaintiff's and Class members' confidential communications and any communications from minors by directing Apple to change its data recording practices on all devices.
The filing of this class action lawsuit follows recent reports that Amazon is also facing a privacy probe related to its storage of recordings made through the Alexa voice assistant. It also comes after reports that human contractors listened to some audio recordings from the Google Assistant.
After these reports were published, Amazon added an option for users to opt-out of Alexa recordings being reviewed by humans while Google temporarily paused listening to voice recordings in the European Union (EU) after Germany's Data Protection Commissioner ordered Google to stop listening and transcribing these recordings.